The Montreal Forum in 2011
|Location||2313 Saint Catherine Street West, Montreal, Quebec, Canada|
|Owner||Investissements Forum Canadien Inc.
Ben Ashkenazy (today)
|Operator||Investissements Forum Canadien Inc.
Ben Ashkenazy (today)
|Capacity||Ice hockey: 17,959
|Broke ground||June 24, 1924|
|Opened||November 29, 1924|
(interior only; exterior still stands)
|Construction cost||$1.5 million
($20.5 million in 2015 dollars)
|Architect||John S. Archibald|
|General contractor||Atlas Construction Company|
|Montreal Maroons (NHL) (1924–1938)
Montreal Canadiens (NHL) (1926–1996)
Montreal Junior Canadiens (QJHL) (1933–1961), (OHA) (1961–1972)
Montreal Voyageurs (AHL) (1969–1971)
Montreal Bleu Blanc Rouge (QMJHL) (1972–1975)
Montreal Juniors (QMJHL) (1975–1982)
Montreal Manic (NASL Indoor) (1981–1982)
Montreal Roadrunners (RHI) (1994–1995)
The Montreal Forum (French: Le Forum de Montréal) was an indoor arena located facing Cabot Square in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Called "the most storied building in hockey history" by Sporting News, it was the home of the National Hockey League's Montreal Maroons from 1924 to 1938 and the Montreal Canadiens from 1926 to 1996. The Forum was built by the Canadian Arena Company in 159 days.
Located at the northeast corner of Atwater and Ste-Catherine West (Metro Atwater), the building was historically significant as it was home to 24 Stanley Cup championships (22 of the Canadiens and two of the Montreal Maroons, for whom the arena was originally built). It was also home to the Montreal Roadrunners and Montreal Junior Canadiens.
The Forum opened on November 29, 1924, at a total cost of $1,500,000 ($20.5 million in 2015 dollars) with an original seating capacity of 9,300. It underwent two renovations, in 1949 and 1968. When the Forum closed in 1996 it had a capacity of 17,959, which included approximately 1,600 in standing room.
By the time of the 1968 renovations, a centre-hung digital scoreclock was installed, designed by the Day Sign Company of Toronto and similar to those installed at the Boston Garden and Chicago Stadium during the 1970s. A new centre-hung scoreclock, designed by Daktronics, was installed in the mid-1980s and contained on each side a color matrix board. Along with one other Original Six indoor ice hockey arena, the Boston Garden, the Montreal Forum used a high-pitched siren to signal the end of an NHL game's period — the siren would later be re-installed in the Forum's successor facility, the Bell Centre (and still in use there), much as the TD Garden in Boston inherited the lower-pitched Garden's siren.
The idea to build the Forum in 1923 is credited to Sir Edward Beattie, president of the Canadian Pacific railway. At the suggestion of Senator Donat Raymond, William Northey developed a plan for a 12,500 seat capacity rink. Plans were scaled back for financial reasons to a rink of 9,300 seats. Even at the reduced size, the rink could not immediately find financing. The Forum would eventually be financed by H. L. Timmins. The site selected was the site of a roller skating rink named the Forum, and the name was kept. The site had previously been the site of an outdoor ice hockey rink, used by Frank and Lester Patrick, Art Ross and Russell Bowie as youths.
While hosting the Canadiens and Maroons on Thursdays and Saturdays, the Forum also hosted the Quebec Senior Hockey League, featuring the Montreal Victorias, Montreal Royals and the Montreal Canadiens amateur team on Wednesdays and Sundays. The Quebec Junior Hockey League played on Monday nights, the Bank League on Tuesdays and the Railways and Telephone League played on Friday nights.
The Montreal Forum hosted Memorial Cup games in 1950, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1973 & 1976, with the Junior Canadiens winning on home ice in 1970. In 1972, the Forum hosted game one of the famous "Summit Series" between Team Canada and the USSR, the USSR won the game 7-3. The 1980 NHL Entry Draft was hosted at the Forum. It would mark the first time that an NHL Arena hosted the event.
On March 11, 1996, the Montreal Canadiens played their last game at the Montreal Forum, defeating the Dallas Stars 4-1. The game was televised on TSN and TQS in Canada, and on ESPN2 in the United States. The Stars' Guy Carbonneau, who had captained the Canadiens from 1989 to 1994 (including their 1993 Cup win), took the ceremonial opening faceoff. After the game, many previous hockey greats were presented to the crowd, most notably Maurice Richard (said to be the Canadiens' most beloved player of all time), who received a sixteen-minute standing ovation from the crowd as he broke down in tears. A symbolic torch—representative of a line quoted from the poem In Flanders Fields, "To you from failing hands we throw the torch; be yours to hold it high," displayed in the Forum's home dressing room—was carried by Emile Bouchard out of the Canadiens dressing room to the playing surface. The flaming torch was passed on to each of the former Canadiens captains (Jean Beliveau, Yvan Cournoyer, Henri Richard, Serge Savard, Bob Gainey, and Carbonneau), and finally to the then-current captain Pierre Turgeon. The next day, a parade was organized in which the torch was carried down the route to the Molson Centre (which has since been renamed the Bell Centre). Their first game at the new venue was against the New York Rangers, a game which the Canadiens won.
The Forum also hosted other sports, including indoor soccer, boxing and tennis. The Forum was a site of five events in the 1976 Summer Olympics: gymnastics, handball (final), basketball (final), volleyball (final), and boxing (final). The gymnastics event included Nadia Comaneci's famous perfect 10, the first in Olympic history.
On March 11, 1937, the Forum hosted its only funeral, for Canadiens great Howie Morenz. Morenz died from complications due to a broken leg, sustained in a game between the Canadiens and the Chicago Blackhawks on January 28.
On September 8, 1964, The Beatles performed at the Forum.
Billy Graham held his Mission Quebec in 1990, before nearly 20,000 spectators, which was videotaped for international television syndication as a TV special. Then-Canadien Ryan Waller delivered his testimony at the crusade.
The seating capacity for hockey went as followed:
- 9,300, 12,500 with standing room (1924-1949)
- 13,551, 15,551 with standing room (1949-1968)
- 16,500, 19,000 with standing room (1968-1978)
- 16,074, 18,076 with standing room (1978-1991)
- 16,259, 17,959 with standing room (1991-1996)
After the Canadiens left the Forum, the building was used to film arena sequences for the Brian De Palma film Snake Eyes. It was then completely gutted and converted into a downtown entertainment centre called the Pepsi Forum, consisting of an AMC Theatres multiplex theatre (sold to Cineplex Odeon in July 2012), shops and restaurants. Centre ice has been recreated in the centre of the complex complete with a small section of the grandstand, along with a statue of a fan leaning forward in delight, while original seats are used as benches throughout the complex. A statue of Maurice Richard can be found next to the grandstand. On the Saint Catherine Street entrance there is a Quebec Walk of Fame consisting of Richard and Celine Dion. Both were on hand for their bronze star's respective unveiling. The Atwater street entrance has a large bronze Montreal Canadiens logo surrounded by 24 bronze Stanley Cup banners cemented into the sidewalk. Inscribed in French are the words "forever proud". The entire building is themed after the Forum's storied history with special emphasis on the Montreal Canadiens.
The building was declared a National Historic Site of Canada in 1997 because:
"it was arguably the country's most famous sporting venue... it also serves as an icon for the role of hockey in Canada's national culture... the Forum is the oldest of Canada's large-scale arenas and has, throughout its history, been the country's leading site for major indoor cultural, political and religious events."—Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, June 1997
The city of Montreal estimates the value of the building at $36.8M, in 2012. This is a $10M drop in value since the previous estimation in 2009. AMC Forum is now owned by New York City Real Estate investor Ben Ashkenazy through a firm called INVESTISSEMENTS FORUM CANADIEN INC.
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- 1976 Summer Olympics official report. Volume 2. pp. 138-43.
- "Wrestling". Collection. National Film Board of Canada. Retrieved January 14, 2010.
- "Stephen Burum - Snake Eyes". International Cinematographers Guild. 1998. Retrieved January 21, 2007.